UK weathermen could face legal action from angry tourism operators

Weather forecasters in the UK are in the firing line after their inaccurate predictions were blamed for sluggish attendance at tourist attractions over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

One such attraction that suffered from poor visitor figures over the period was the National Showcaves Centre in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. The centre’s boss, Ashford Price, is so incensed by the weather forecasters’ gloomy predictions for snow that never materialised, that he is threatening to sue the Met men for the thousands of pounds in lost revenue when visitors stayed away.

He spoke to the Daily Mail, saying, ‘The big problem is that we can’t afford for the Met Office to get it wrong on key holiday dates for the tourism industry. The forecasters said it would snow for five days over Easter, so we had hundreds of cancellations. Sure, it was cold, but there was no snow.

‘Tourism is the one industry in Wales which gives jobs to young people – and we had to send them away because so many people were cancelling their plans. I appreciate that predicting the weather is not an exact science, but I am pleading with the Met Office to warn people they may not always be right.

‘It seems that the gloomier the forecast, the more television weather presenters enthuse, but meanwhile campsites are staying empty, trekking ponies need feeding and we’re losing out on thousands of pounds.’

With his concern extending to the rest of the Welsh tourism industry, Mr Price said, ‘We have spoken to our legal teams and are waiting to find out the next steps.’

However, a representative from law firm, Irwin Mitchell, was quoted in the Daily Mirror, saying, ‘There would need to be a contract between the forecaster and the individual with duty of care for a breach to be recognised.’

Forecasters claim that their accuracy rate has been proven for six out of any seven days.

 

East Midlands Trains Operating On Schedule In Spite Of Snowfall

East Midlands Trains, a UK-based train service, has confirmed that it will be continuing its services, in spite of the heavy snowfall affecting parts of the country.

The train operator is currently running its trains on schedule.

David Horne, the managing director for East Midlands Trains, said, ‘We have put a huge amount of planning into preparing for the bad weather to keep our services running for customers. Our staffs are working incredibly hard to keep our trains running and we have extra staff from all areas of our business out clearing snow from station platforms to help keep them safe for passengers.

We’re pleased to have been able to maintain our full timetable throughout the past few days despite some heavy snowfall affecting large parts of our network, and our services are currently running very well.

We’re currently providing a full service on all of our routes, but as with any form of transport, there are times when the severe weather can have an impact on the service we can operate.

We will continue to monitor the weather conditions throughout the day and would advise passengers to keep an eye on how their local transport services are running.

We do understand that it may take people longer to get to the station due to some treacherous road conditions, and we would advise people to allow extra time for their journey to the station and speak to a member of our staff who can provide assistance with onward travel.’

The train company has announced that it will be considering its discretionary powers in the case of passengers that have a pre-booked ticket but cannot make it to the station due to heavy snowfall.

 

What a difference a week makes…

Last week saw new temperature records being set in Scotland with 23.6 °C recorded at Aboyne, Aberdeenshire on Tuesday.

In contrast, the temperature this Tuesday will be some 20 degrees colder with snow on the ground.

Over parts of Scotland, especially the north, significant snowfall could bring some travel disruption during the first half of the week, with 2-5 cm of snow expected in many areas and at least 15 cm for the higher parts of the Grampian mountains.

The hills of northern England will also see some snow on Tuesday but further south across England and Wales, we will mainly see rain which may turn to snow for a time over the hills of the Chilterns, Cotswolds, Salisbury Plain and the Downs.

Martin Young, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office, said: “Spring is a season of contrasts and it’s certainly not unusual to see snow at this time of year. However, this week’s wintry snap will be short-lived, with temperatures returning to normal as we head towards the Easter weekend.

“We can expect to see some hard night frosts by the middle of the week with temperatures down to between -4 and -6 °C in many places, with impacts for gardeners and growers.”

Keith Brown, Transport Minister for Scotland, said: “Coming so soon after last week’s extremely mild temperatures the key is to guard against complacency. The Met Office advises that temperatures could be 15-20 degrees colder in some places than they were at the same time last week. Therefore the public should continue to check travel bulletins or the  Traffic Scotland website for the latest advice.”

Temperatures are expected to rise again later in the week and should be around normal again as we head into the Easter weekend.

Temperatures to drop below -10C, army are on standby

Arctic conditions could bring temperatures as low as -11C as the big breeze hits the UK.

This week temperatures are likely to plummet well below freezing, with many parts of the country seeing weather colder than Iceland. Four inches of snow and ice are likely to cover parts of the country over the next week.

A high-pressure system hanging over Scandinavia pushing freezing winds across to the UK.

The weather warning has been upgraded by the Met Office to level three. Explaining that England is 100 per cent likely to experience ‘severe’ conditions over the next seven days.

The army are already on standby incase level four ‘a major cold weather incident’ sets in.

According to the Met Office temperatures will drop to as low as -6C (21.2F) tomorrow and on Thursday, when daytime maximums will be no more than 3C (37.4F).

This is likely to be the longest spell of cold weather this winter, experts say.

Clare Allen, forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: ‘We’ve got an easterly wind across the country bringing snow showers off the North Sea.

‘Most areas of the UK will see daytime maximum temperatures of 2C (35.6F) and 3C.

‘London will be a maximum of 4C (39.2F), so it’s going to be pretty cold.’

BBC Radio 5 Live reported that temperatures could fall as low as -11C.

Paul Mott, forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: ‘The nights will be really cold throughout the week and there will be the occasional snow shower over the eastern counties of England, eastern Scotland and even London.’

Police in the south have warned drivers in some parts of the country not to travel unless it is vital after snowfall over the higher areas of Exmoor and Dartmoor.

Mr Mott said: ‘There has been a sprinkling of snow overnight over parts of Wales, Devon, Somerset and Hampshire.

‘It has mainly been over hills – with accumulations of up to 5cm in some areas – but there have also been some falls on lower ground locally.

‘There will be some fairly wet snow falling over the hills of Gloucestershire, Somerset and south Wales this morning but it will struggle to settle so shouldn’t cause too many transport problems,’ Mott said.

 

Top winter destination 2012: Mayrhofen

Mayrhofen in Austria makes a wonderful choice for your 2012 ski holiday as it has a perfect balance of traditional Austrian buildings and cuisine.

But venture out at night and you’ll find the liveliest après ski scene in the region, with an abundance of bars and clubs for you to enjoy yourself after a long day on the slopes.

If however, you are wishing to avoid the après ski hype, this versatile place is still perfect for you as the bars are present but not dominating and if a nice meal and a bottle of wine is more your thing this Tyrolean town is more than happy to oblige with the abundance of fine eateries in the town.

There are three main ski areas for you to explore including the Hintertux glacier which guarantees somewhere to ski all year round.

There are plenty of pistes perfect for beginners but also enough to satisfy the intermediates and for the experts among you what a treat; if you think you can handle it you can test your skills on the famous Harikri run which at a 78% gradient is the steepest piste in Austria and translates as ‘suicide’ in Japanese!

Mayrhofen has been the first choice for skiers and boarders for years due to the endless pistes, Austrian charm and in some bars in the high street you can buy a pint for €2 but there is also plenty to do for non-skiers as well. Think horse drawn sleigh rides, tobogganing, ice skating and there are plenty spa facilities, for those who fancy a bit of pampering.

No matter what your age, the charming Austrian resort of Mayrhofen has something offer for everyone and will make the perfect choice for your 2012 ski holiday.

Article by Lauren Probert

Wintry and unsettled weather for Christmas weekend

There is increasing confidence that an Atlantic storm will now move along the south coast of England, bringing the risk of snow to Wales, the Midlands and parts of southern and southeast England from the early hours of Friday morning.

The snow is likely to accumulate even at low levels for a time with the risk of up to 10 cm lying over higher ground on Friday.

Heavy rain will also feature across the south of the UK as the storm passes through, bringing a risk of surface water flooding, with winds of up to 60 mph in the far southeast overnight into Friday.

However, there is still a small chance that the low will move further north, with the risk of strong winds affecting a larger area of the south of England.

Colder than average temperatures will then carry on through Friday and the weekend, continuing the risk of icy conditions.

Andy Page, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office, said: “Snow, heavy rain and strong winds are all expected to affect parts of the UK over the next day or so, bringing hazardous conditions at times.

“We’re working closely with government agencies and the resilience community to keep them up to date with the latest information. We’d advise the public to regularly check our latest forecasts and warnings to stay up-to-date with the situation.”

Jason Glasson, the Highways Agency’s National Winter & Severe Weather Team Leader, said: “I advise drivers to plan ahead before setting out tomorrow morning. Check the Met Office weather forecast and  road conditions and allow extra time if travel conditions are poor or delay the journey if conditions are really severe.”

Why Swedish Lapland is not just for Christmas

After a December that was the coldest in Europe for 100 years – many of us dream of heading south to the warmth.

Some adventurous Britons, however, have moved in the opposite direction, setting up home in Swedish Lapland in a string of remote communities straddling the Arctic Circle.

The area (Lapland comprises the northernmost parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland and part of Russia) is sometimes described as Europe’s last wilderness, and it is certainly cold; this winter, the first snow fell in the first week of October. Temperatures can plunge to minus 30C, and snow covers the ground until at least April.

Patricia Cowern traded the West Midlands for the village of Porjus (population 400) after visiting the area in 1995 with her son, Toby, who was on an outdoor survival course.

“The space, quiet and proximity to nature just overwhelmed me,” says Patricia, a photographer who runs a gallery (pictures of the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, are her speciality) and rents out four self-catering flats in the village.

Toby, 31, also decided to move permanently to Porjus, and now makes a living as a tour guide, taking visitors on snowmobile and dog-sledding trips. In the short Lapland summer, he offers canoeing and hiking, and helps out as a part-time fireman. His two daughters, aged six and nine, go to the village school and speak perfect Swedish.

“Lapland gives the girls freedom to be children,” says Patricia, of her grandchildren. “The village is simple, but it’s safe. Weather permitting, they are out on their bikes all the time, and only come home when they are hungry. In the winter, they love to ski. You could call it a rather old-fashioned kind of life.”

But Patricia has advice about putting down roots in Lapland: “First, you can’t live here and not like the outdoors.  Secondly, you need to be resourceful and make your own job.” Meanwhile, brown bears, lynx, elk and the ubiquitous reindeer roam the hills and forests. In the warmer months, fields are full of flowers, and huge mushrooms and tiny wild strawberries abound.

David and Kerstin Carpenter, both from Essex, have helped a number of British expats set up home in and around Jokkmokk. With 3,000 people, it is the capital of a municipality of less than 6,000 permanent residents spread over an area larger than Northern Ireland.

Jokkmokk is well known for its Sami (indigenous Lapp) crafts fair, which has taken place every February for 400 years. The fair features reindeer racing and traditional singing. A wide selection of pelts and furs are on sale.

Homes in Lapland are traditionally painted red with white trimmings around the door and windows. “The vast majority of houses are made of wood,” says David. “They are not just timber-framed, they are made entirely of wood.”

Wooden houses can last for decades in the predominantly dry climate. Homes have large grounds, often with saunas.

Snow on the roofs might be picturesque, but it can be a problem because of the weight. “In the early spring, snow begins to melt in the day,” says David. “Then it freezes overnight. As a result, it turns to ice and of course becomes heavier and heavier if not removed.”

Transport problems experienced in Britain after a light coating of snow are unthinkable. Ploughs clear main roads as soon as snow falls, and locals use tractors to clear minor roads and tracks. And what about airports shut down because of wintry weather? “I’ve never heard that Lulea airport [115 miles from Jokkmokk on the coast] has had to close in the winter for any reason other than fog,” says Patricia.

While depopulation is a problem in Sweden’s far north, communities are becoming multicultural. There are up to 30 different nationalities in Jokkmokk town, which has about a dozen British residents. Patricia estimates that there are now 14 different nationalities in Porjus. German, British and Dutch incomers are the biggest national groups.

“In the long term, these communities are declining,” says David. “For every 200 people who move in, from southern Sweden and abroad, we lose 225 as the older generation dies, and young people move out to a University or job in the south of Sweden”.

In an effort to reverse the trend, the local council, a regional bank and Vattenfall, the nationally owned power company, have set up Emigrate2Jokkmokk to attract new residents, particularly young families, and offer help when they arrive.

David administers the programme: “We have a lot to offer here: lakes with water fresh enough to drink, wonderful fishing in all seasons, and peace and quiet. Prices for many things are similar to the UK.”

But some things you can’t easily buy in Britain, cold winter or not. In Swedish Lapland, for as little as £500, you can be the proud owner of a second-hand snowmobile.